Thursday, December 31, 2015


The Express saw 2015 come to an end with a 5-4 loss in Merritt on New Years Eve Thursday. Click here for boxscore

Coquitlam held the lead on three separate occasions but it still wasn't enough on this night.

Newly minted World Jr. A Challenge gold medalist Blake Hayward opened the scoring for the Express just over four minutes in to the game beating Cole Kehler with a wrist shot over the stick coming down the left wing side.

From there Merritt took over the game for the next 10 minutes or so. AP Carter Shannon found a loose puck at the side of the Express net and was able to jam his first BCHL goal past Lawson Fenton to tie the game at one.

Then Lawson Fenton stood on his head just to keep the game even. On two separate two on one breaks Fenton came across to his left to make miraculous saves. One with his glove and another with his left pad.

Merritt finally was able to fire another puck past Fenton the power play. A pass out from the corner by Colin Grannary found Gavin Gould alone in the slot in front of Fenton and Gould snapped home a shot past the glove of Fenton for a 2-1 Cents lead. The goal came with just under six minutes remaining in the first period and by that point Merritt already had a 20-6 advantage in shots.

In the final 5 minutes the Express were able to turn the tables somewhat. Jackson Cressey pulled the Express even 1:14 later burying his own rebound for his 21st goal of the season. 42 seconds later Austin McIlMurray gave the Express their second lead of the night when he knocked down a clearing attempt then cut to the slot and beat Cole Kehler with a backhand for a 3-2 Express lead.

The Express were able to take that lead to the room after the first period. But that's only due to the play of Lawson Fenton who made 18 first period saves.

Colin Grannary had a great finish to 2015, he evened things up for Merritt in the second period by taking a drop pass from Mitch Lipon and beat Fenton with a shot up over the glove after a clean look from the slot to tie the game at three.

Just as Grannary was having a great finish to 2015 for the Cents, the same could be said for Express captain Jackson Cressey. He found a loose puck in front of the Merritt net and buried it for his second of the game to give the Express the lead for the third time on the night assisted by Owen Stout and Taylor Green.

The story of this game was the Express' inability to protect a lead and shut down the Cents top line of Granary, Mitch Lipon and Tyler Ward. Merritt tied the game off a goal from Ward just over two minutes into the third period when he was able to bury the rebound of a Granary shot from the right wing.

Five minutes later after the Express failed to clear the puck out of their zone, the Cents top line dazzled the fans in attendance with a beautiful passing play and Mitch Lipon was on the business end of the three way passing play snapping it past Fenton who had no chance on the one timer for a 5-4 Centennials lead. Merritt's top line combined for three goals and six assists for nine points.

In the final minutes the Express had their chances to equalize but were unable to get another puck past Kehler. The best chance for the Express came off the stick of newly acquired former Centennial Ryan Coghlan who had a clean look from the left wing side but couldn't beat his former teammate and create a memorable story line for Coghlan in his Express debut.

Merritt finished with 49 shots while the Express had 41 shots in this back and forth affair. The Centennials extended their winning streak to three straight games. For the Express they now return home to begin a 7 game home stand starting Saturday night vs. Prince George. 

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